Yazidi women and girls subjected to military sexual slavery

'I wished I was killed': Yazidi ISIS slave shares her harrowing story
CBC, July 25, 2016

August marks the second anniversary of a brutal chapter in the ongoing story of ISIS. In August 2014, fighters with the extremist group carried out a massacre in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq. Thousands were killed, thousands more girls and women were kidnapped as sex slaves, and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee.

    'He raped me and used me for a couple of days.'
    - Nadia Murad Basee Taha held captive by ISIS

Most of those affected were Yazidi. Nadia Murad Basee Taha is a young Yazidi woman who now lives in Germany. Her life took a horrific turn in 2014 when ISIS fighters arrived in her village. She shares her story of trauma and escape with The Current's host Laura Lynch.

"We were separated from our families and taken to Mosul. At that moment we knew we were being taken to be used for rape and to be sold."

Iraqi Yazidi Nadia Murad Basee Taha has been calling on Canada to help Yazidis with the immigration and asylum process. She says 'our people have been suffering for the past two years and they must be helped.'

Taha explains what she had to endure as a captive of ISIS, "He took me. He raped me and used me for a couple of days. This is what they would do. They would keep the girls for a day or two days a week then they would pass them to a different one."

    ' I wished they had killed us all.'
    - Nadia Murad Basee Taha

Yazidis are an ethnic minority group in Iraq that practice an ancient religion. They are considered "devil worshippers" by supporters of ISIS and treated like property, exchanged as "gifts."

"I wished I was killed, or starved, or died on the mountain like the other Yazidis instead of being someone with no value to be used by the terrorists whatever way they wished to use us." Taha tells Lynch.

"I wished that when they killed our brothers, our mothers, I wished they had killed us all as well."

The United Nations has called the 2014 massacre a genocide. Taha spoke to the UN Security Council about her horrific time as a slave to ISIS.

"After I was freed I thought that the world would bring justice to us. That the world would be fair to us. But nothing has happened. We still have 3,000 people in captivity," Taha tells Lynch.

In Ottawa, advocates and Opposition MPs have asked the Canadian government to allow for the resettlement of five to 10,000 of the most vulnerable Yazidis. On July 19, Taha was in Ottawa and shared her story to a Parliamentary Committee studying how Canada's immigration system deals with particularly vulnerable groups like the Yazidis.

It's not known how many Yazidi refugees have been resettled in Canada since 2014 because the federal government does not track the race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity of refugees. But Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel claims that only nine cases have been processed.

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson.


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‘Virgin. Beautiful. 12 years old’: ISIS tightens grip on women held as sex slaves

by Lori Hinnant, Maya Alleruzzo and Balint Szlank, The Associated Press

WARNING: This story contains graphic details. Viewer discretion is advised.

KHANKE, Iraq — The advertisement on the Telegram app is as chilling as it is incongruous: A girl for sale is “Virgin. Beautiful. 12 years old…. Her price has reached $12,500 and she will be sold soon.”

The posting in Arabic appeared on an encrypted conversation along with ads for kittens, weapons and tactical gear. It was shared with The Associated Press by an activist with the minority Yazidi community, whose women and children are being held as sex slaves by the extremists.

READ MORE: New drone footage captures catastrophic damage in Iraqi city of Ramadi

While the Islamic State group is losing territory in its self-styled caliphate, it is tightening its grip on the estimated 3,000 women and girls held as sex slaves. In a fusion of ancient barbaric practices and modern technology, IS sells the women like cattle on smart phone apps and shares databases that contain their photographs and the names of their “owners” to prevent their escape through IS checkpoints. The fighters are assassinating smugglers who rescue the captives, just as funds to buy the women out of slavery are drying up.

The thousands of Yazidi women and children were taken prisoner in August 2014, when IS fighters overran their villages in northern Iraq with the aim to eliminate the Kurdish-speaking minority because of its ancient faith. Since then, Arab and Kurdish smugglers managed to free an average of 134 people a month. But by May, an IS crackdown reduced those numbers to just 39 in the last six weeks, according to figures provided by the Kurdistan regional government.

READ MORE: Islamic State committing genocide, UN says

Mirza Danai, founder of the German-Iraqi aid organization Luftbrucke Irak, said in the last two or three months, escape has become more difficult and dangerous.

“They register every slave, every person under their owner, and therefore if she escapes, every Daesh control or checkpoint, or security force – they know that this girl … has escaped from this owner,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for the group.

The AP has obtained a batch of 48 head shots of the captives, smuggled out of the IS-controlled region by an escapee, which people familiar with them say are similar to those in the extremists’ slave database and the smartphone apps.

WATCH: Cyber-battle against so-called Islamic State

Lamiya Aji Bashar tried to flee four times before finally escaping in March, racing to government-controlled territory with Islamic State group fighters in pursuit. A land mine exploded, killing her companions, 8-year-old Almas and Katherine, 20. She never learned their last names.

The explosion left Lamiya blind in her right eye, her face scarred by melted skin. Saved by the man who smuggled her out, she counts herself among the lucky.

“I managed in the end, thanks to God, I managed to get away from those infidels,” the 18-year-told the AP from a bed at her uncle’s home in the northern Iraqi town of Baadre. “Even if I had lost both eyes, it would have been worth it, because I have survived them.”

Sunni extremists view the Yazidis as barely human

The Yazidi faith combines elements of Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion. Their pre-war population in Iraq was estimated around 500,000. Their number today is unknown.

Nadia Mourad, an escapee, has appeared before the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament to appeal for international help.

“Daesh is proud of what it’s done to the Yazidis,” she said to Parliament. “They are being used has human shields. They are not allowed to escape or flee. Probably they will be assassinated. Where is the world in all this? Where is humanity?”

IS relies on encrypted apps to sell the women and girls, according to an activist is documenting the transactions and asked not to be named for fear of his safety.

The activist showed AP the negotiations for the captives in encrypted conversations as they were occurring in real time.

READ MORE: Baghdad suicide bombing death toll rises to 175

The postings appear primarily on Telegram and on Facebook and WhatsApp to a lesser degree, he said.

Both Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Telegram use end-to-end encryption to protect users’ privacy. Both have said they consider protecting private conversations and data paramount, and that they themselves cannot access users’ content.

“Telegram is extremely popular in the Middle East, among other regions,” said Telegram spokesman Markus Ra. “This, unfortunately, includes the more marginal elements and the broadest law-abiding masses alike.” He added the company is committed to prevent abuse of the service and that it routinely removes public channels used by IS.

Women sold on social media apps

Islamic State group militants took this photo of Yazidi girl Nazdar Murat, as part of a database the militants have put together of Yazidi girls and women they have enslaved, shown in this May 18, 2016, photo taken during an interview with her family at Kankhe Camp for the internally displaced in Dahuk, northern Iraq.
Islamic State group militants took this photo of Yazidi girl Nazdar Murat, as part of a database the militants have put together of Yazidi girls and women they have enslaved, shown in this May 18, 2016, photo taken during an interview with her family at Kankhe Camp for the internally displaced in Dahuk, northern Iraq.
(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
In addition to the posting for the 12-year-old in a group with hundreds of members, the AP viewed an ad on WhatsApp for a mother with a 3-year-old and a 7-month old baby, with a price of $3,700. “She wants her owner to sell her,” read the posting, followed by a photo.

“We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and disable accounts when provided with evidence of activity that violates our terms. We encourage people to use our reporting tools if they encounter this type of behavior,” said Matt Steinfeld, a spokesman for WhatsApp.

Like the Bible, some passages of the Quran implicitly condone slavery, which was widespread when the holy book emerged. It also allows men to have sex with both their wives and “those they possess with their right hands,” taken by interpreters to refer to female slaves.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, most Muslim scholars backed the banning of slavery, citing Quranic verses that say freeing them is a blessing. Some hard-liners, however, continued to insist that under Shariah sex slavery must be permitted, though the Islamic State group is the first in the modern era to bring it into organized practice.

In the images obtained by AP, many of the women and girls are dressed in finery, some in heavy makeup. All look directly at the camera, standing in front of overstuffed chairs or brocade curtains in what resembles a shabby hotel ballroom. Some are barely out of elementary school. Not one looks older than 30.

One of them is Nazdar Murat, who was about 16 when she was abducted two years ago – one of more than two dozen young women taken away by the extremists in a single day in August 2014. Her father and uncles were among about 40 people killed when IS took over the Sinjar area, the heart of the Yazidi homeland.

Inside an immaculately kept tent in a displaced persons camp outside the northern Iraqi town of Dahuk, Nazdar’s mother said her daughter managed to call once, six months ago.

“We spoke for a few seconds. She said she was in Mosul,” said Murat, referring to Iraq’s second-largest city. “Every time someone comes back, we ask them what happened to her and no one recognizes her. Some people told me she committed suicide.”

The family keeps the file of missing Yazidis on a mobile phone. They show it to those who have escaped the caliphate, to find out if anyone has seen her, and to other families looking for a thread of hope they’ll see their own missing relatives again.

The odds of rescue, however, grow slimmer by the day

The smuggling networks that have freed the captives are being targeted by IS leaders, who are fighting to keep the Yazidis at nearly any cost, said Andrew Slater of the non-profit group Yazda, which helps document crimes against the community and organizes refuge for those who have fled.

Kurdistan’s regional government had been reimbursing impoverished Yazidi families who paid up to $15,000 in fees to smugglers to rescue their relatives, or the ransoms demanded by individual fighters to give up the captives. But the Kurdish regional government no longer has the funds. For the past year, Kurdistan has been mired in an economic crisis brought on by the collapse of oil prices, a dispute with Iraq’s central government over revenues, and the fallout from the war against the Islamic State.

Even when IS retreats from towns like Ramadi or Fallujah, the missing girls are nowhere to be found.

“Rescues are slowing. They’re going to stop. People are running out of money, I have dozens of families who are tens of thousands of dollars in debt,” Slater said. “There are still thousands of women and kids in captivity but it’s getting harder and harder to get them out.”

Lamiya was abducted from the village of Kocho, near the town of Sinjar, in the summer of 2014. Her parents are presumed dead. Somewhere, she said, her 9-year-old sister Mayada remains captive. One photo she managed to send to the family shows the little girl standing in front of an IS flag.

Five other sisters all managed to escape and later were relocated to Germany. A younger brother, kept for months in an IS training camp in Mosul, also slipped away and is now staying with other relatives in Dahuk, a city in the Iraqi Kurdish region.

Sitting very still and speaking in a monotone, Lamiya recounted her captivity, describing how she was passed from one IS follower to another, all of whom beat and violated her. She was determined to escape.

She said her first “owner” was an Iraqi IS commander who went by the name Abu Mansour in the city of Raqqa, the de-facto IS capital deep in Syria. He brutalized her, often keeping her handcuffed.

She tried to run away twice but was caught, beaten and raped repeatedly. After a month, she said, she was sold to another IS extremist in Mosul. After she spent two months with him, she was sold again, this time to an IS bomb-maker who Lamiya said forced her to help him make suicide vests and car bombs.

“I tried to escape from him,” she said. “And he captured me, too, and he beat me.”

When the bomb-maker grew bored with her, she was handed over to an IS doctor in Hawija, a small IS-controlled Iraqi town. She said the doctor, who was the IS head of the town hospital, also abused her.

From there, after more than a year, she managed to contact her relatives in secret.

Her uncle said the family paid local smugglers $800 to arrange Lamiya’s escape. She will be reunited with her siblings in Germany, but despite everything, her heart remains in Iraq.

“We had a nice house with a big farm … I was going to school,” she said. “It was beautiful.”

© 2016 The Canadian Press


Why Turkey is our worst friend in the world
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strained Turkey’s partnership with its NATO allies from the beginning. Can we still even consider Turkey a friend?
Scott Gilmore
August 9, 2016

At some point in the last three weeks, Turkey definitively shifted from ally to adversary.

Turkey has always had a complicated relationship with the Western world, straddling Asia, Europe and the Middle East both culturally and physically. But, in recent years, it still seemed like Ankara was on our team. It has been a strong member of NATO. Its efforts to join the European Union, albeit fitful, were at least efforts to move towards the West and not away. The Turkish economy and its culture have become ever more connected to Europe’s over the last several decades, and large-scale migration made those connections personal and deep.

Over the last 15 years, Turkey has arguably even been an indispensable ally, providing military bases to Western forces fighting in Syria and Iraq, and managing the flow of refugees out of that region. Ankara even sent a battalion to Afghanistan.

But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has strained that partnership right from the beginning. When you review his political career, there is such a long list of scandals, affronts and conflicts with Turkish civil society, ethnic minorities, women, secular groups and Western allies, you wonder why it took so long for relations to break down.

Erdogan has ruled Turkey like a 19th-century sultan: mercurial, pompous and severe. In hindsight, with his instinctive animosity towards Turkey’s Western allies and their troublesome fixation on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, it is easy to see how things fell apart.

Under Erdogan, the government has shifted away from its secular traditions towards Islam. A staunch Muslim, Erdogan has supported Syrian groups aligned with the Islamic State, and been accused of channeling money to ISIS. He maintains Turkey committed no crime when 1.5 million people were massacred during the Armenian Genocide, and he even ordered the destruction of a monument dedicated to reconciliation between Armenian and Turkish peoples. ...


Yazidi crisis must be handled prudently

A rushed approach to helping the Yazidi people is fraught with danger, says MP Peter Fragiskatos.

Yazidi women attend a demonstration at a refugee camp in Kurdish-dominated city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, to mark the second anniversary of what a U.N.-appointed commission of independent war crimes investigators termed a genocide against the Yazidi population.
Yazidi women attend a demonstration at a refugee camp in Kurdish-dominated city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, to mark the second anniversary of what a U.N.-appointed commission of independent war crimes investigators termed a genocide against the Yazidi population.  (REUTERS)  

Two years ago this month, Daesh, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), viciously attacked and displaced entire Yazidi communities in northern Iraq, where it is believed most members of this religious minority live. Thousands were killed. Captured women and children were kept and sold as slaves. More than 3,000 remain under Daesh control.

The Yazidis profess a faith that brings together Christian, Zoroastrian and Islamic teachings. Because of this, Daesh is attempting to extinguish the group as a whole. United Nations investigators said as much in June when they declared an ongoing genocide against the Yazidi people in Syria and Iraq. Canada has recognized the genocide as well.

That our country ought to help the Yazidi people is not in doubt. The real question is determining the best way for us to act.

MPs Michelle Rempel, a Conservative, and Jenny Kwan of the NDP have put forward specific recommendations to the federal government. These would, however, be shaped by their most crucial point of advice: that Ottawa proceed “immediately” to “accelerate” the relocation of Yazidis to Canada.

The problem with this idea – which is certainly well-intentioned – is that a rushed approach is fraught with danger.

Yazidi activists have called for the most vulnerable to be prioritized for resettlement by Canada, with a request to accept between 5,000 and 10,000 people. These figures are supported by the Conservatives and NDP.

Many Yazidis have fled to Turkey or Europe but thousands are still living in northern Iraq in displacement camps. Because they live closest to ISIS controlled territory, it is these Yazidis who are in an especially perilous position.

In order to process asylum claims on the level that is being called for, one presumes that a very large team of civil servants would have to be dispatched to the province of Dohuk, where seven of the nine displacement camps holding Yazidis are located. Dohuk, however, is an hour’s drive from Mosul, which is under Daesh control and its members operate freely in the surrounding territory

It is not difficult to see the threat this poses if Daesh decides to launch an attack on or near those camps. And with fighting in Mosul between Daesh and Iraqi forces appearing imminent, the possibility of conflict spilling over to that area is also quite real.

None of these circumstances confronted Canadian authorities in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon who assisted in reviewing the files of prospective Syrian refugees. It is a unique situation with its own complexities.

In light of all this, some argue that the task of identifying the most vulnerable Yazidis should be left to the Yazidi people themselves because they know their situation best. Organizations have indeed formed and, in one case, a data base has been created by a group to track information about individuals who may be eligible for resettlement.

I do not doubt the good will of those behind such efforts. However, there are concerns here too.

Yazidi society is based on a caste structure. A hierarchical order privileges religious leaders and local elders, known as shaikhs and pirs, above the morid, or laypersons. The latter comprise the majority and do not hold any special status.

Although this tradition has been questioned in recent years, it remains firmly in place. The result is that members of the morid class could be overlooked, even though their predicament may be far worse than that felt by shaikh and pir elites and their families. This is not a certainty, but it is a possibility and should give us pause.

It is clear that the Yazidi people are victims of genocide. Resettlement is an important part of addressing their plight, but it needs to be pursued carefully because there are no easy answers. Thinking things through in order to determine the best way forward is prudent, compassionate and what Canadians rightly expect from a responsible government.

Peter Fragiskatos, a Liberal, is MP for London North Centre and a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

Iraqi Woman Shoots Dead ISIS Commander That Once Made Her A Sex Slave
by Editorial Staff · Published August 19, 2016

A woman,  believed to be of the Yazidi-Kurdish minority, shot and killed senior Islamic State commander Abu Anas just outside the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, Iraq.

The woman is a part of a group of Iraqi women, who are growing in numbers that are fighting against ISIS, the terrorist organization that abused them for so long.

According to sources, the Iraqi woman in question was taken as a sex slave by Anas and then given off to his friends as a “gift.”

“An Iraqi woman gunned down the ISIS terror chief who forced her into sex slavery, it has been reported.

The woman, believed to be be a member of the Yazidi-Kurdish minority, shot dead a senior Islamic State commander known as Abu Anas, according to Iraqi satellite TV network Alsumaria News.

Kurdistan Democratic Party spokesman Saeed Mamouzini said that the militant was killed on Saturday near the city of Mosul in Iraq.

He forced the woman into sex slavery and handed her to his depraved followers as a sick ‘gift’, he said.

ISIS believe that rape is a part of Islam and that it is their right to rape those that do not follow it.

God bless these women and the righteous work they do! Do you think more women will join the fight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Yazidi teenage girl set herself on fire to avoid becoming sex slave for ISIS
by Christian Deguit, Christian Daily, 26 August, 2016

(Reuters/Ari Jala)Yazidi sisters who escaped Islamic State captivity sit at a Sharya refugee camp on the outskirts of Duhok province in Iraq, July 3, 2015.

A Yazidi teenage girl captured by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has revealed that she set herself on fire to disfigure her face so that she won't become a sex slave.

Identified by reports as only "Yasmin," the girl who was fleeing from her ISIS captors and was already actually in an Iraqi refugee camp when she decided to douse herself in petrol and set her body on fire after thinking of hearing the voices of ISIS militants coming out to get her. The self-torture was a deliberate attempt to make herself unattractive to men and stop ISIS from using her as a sex slave.

"Their voice was in my ears ... I could hear their voice, I was so scared," she told Associated Press. "I couldn't take it anymore. And this is what happened to me."

The flames burned her hair and whole face. In addition, her nose, lips and ears were badly damaged.

Two years ago, Yasmin and her family, along with tens of thousands of Yazidis, fled to Mount Sinjar in Iraq to escape the siege of the Islamic State. However, she and her sister got separated from the group and was unfortunately kidnapped by ISIS. Yasmin revealed that both she and her sister were raped and repeatedly beaten for a week before they were able to flee into the mountains.

Yasmin is now 18 years old and is currently in Germany being helped by psychologists to cope with the trauma she suffered. She is joining 1,100 other Yazidi women who are fleeing the Islamic State and have been given permission to remain in Germany for two years. In Germany, Yasmin is joined by her parents, sister and two brothers.


Brave British mother of three, 40, risks her life to free Yazidi sex slaves as young as SIX from rape and torture by brutal ISIS jihadis

    Rachel Miller, from Nottingham, has freed many Yazidi women and girls
    She has sold jewellery and taken out loans in order to pay for freedom
    The girls were abducted in 2014 and are often traded by ISIS at markets

By Daily Mail Online Reporter, 28 August 2016

A British woman has sold her own jewellery and taken out bank loans in order to pay for the freedom of women and girls who became ISIS sex slaves.

Rachel Miller, 40, from Nottingham, has paid up to £7,500 to brokers to free girls as young as six.

The girls and young women are Yazidis, members of a distinct and ancient religious community in northern Iraq, who are considered heretics by ISIS.

Around 200,000 Yazidis fled from ISIS in 2014 when they captured the city of Sinjar and many Yazidi females were captured and enslaved.

Mrs Miller said the first girl she freed had seen her mother raped and murdered and her father decapitated and was herself raped repeatedly for months on end.

Mrs Miller, who has three children of her own, told the Daily Mirror: 'One girl squeezed my hand, not just a hello...but a squeeze that said a thousand things.

'Touch from those who have been raped and taken into slavery is so significant.

'They shy away from any touch, unless it's from a mother or sibling... to touch a stranger, me, shows that she trusted me.'

Rachel Miller has paid thousands of pounds to rescue girls who would otherwise be sex slaves

This summer Mrs Miller sold some of her own gold jewellery and took out a bank loan just so she could pay in cash for a 13-year-old girl.

She said she did not tell her husband, who is Kurdish, what she had done until afterwards but she said he is supportive: 'He's proud but he worries for my safety and knows that I sometimes just do things without thinking.'

Rachel has two autistic sons, aged seven and eight, and a 19-year-old daughter.

She also has a network of donors who help with her work.

The United Nations says around 6,000 Yazidi women were abducted by ISIS and they are traded like cattle at markets in Iraq and Syria and even via mobile phone apps.

One sick phone ad read: 'Virgin. Beautiful. 12 years old. Her price is at £9,500 and she'll be sold soon.'

Mrs Miller's husband has family living in the Kurdish region of south-east Turkey, which has given her rare access to a network of brokers and shady dealers.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3761635/Brave-British-mothe...

'I'm not a Muslim convert': Photographer tells how Kayla Mueller stood up to ISIS executioner Jihadi John and turned down chance to escape so she could help save Yazidi sex slaves

Kayla Mueller died last year after being kept as a sex slave by ISIS
She was kidnapped by ISIS along with her boyfriend in August 2013
Now former captives and a Yazidi escapee have recalled Mueller's bravery and selflessness during her captivity, despite daily torture and rape
Daniel Ottosen said Mueller was shown to other captives who were told she had converted to Islam, to which she replied: 'No, I didn't'
Meanwhile a Yazidi girl kept as a sex slave with Mueller recalls how she offered her the chance to escape back in fall 2014
But Mueller refused, telling the girl:  'I am American. If I escape with you, they will do everything to find us again'

By Chris Pleasance and Khaleda Rahman For Dailymail.com, 27 August 2016

American aid worker Kayla Mueller defied her ISIS captors by refusing to convert to Islam and even turned down an opportunity to escape to help save Yazidi sex slaves.

The heartbreaking and heroic details of Mueller's 18 months in captivity in Syria have been revealed by former hostages and one escaped Yazidi girl who spoke to ABC.

Mueller was taken from a Doctor's Without Borders vehicle near Aleppo in 2013 before being tortured, ransomed and then taken as a sex slave by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi before being killed in an airstrike in early 2015.

Daniel Rye Ottosen, a Danish freelance photographer, recalled how Mueller was paraded in front of the other prisoners as an example by ISIS butcher Jihadi John.

Scroll down for video
Daniel Rye Ottosen, a Danish freelance photographer, recalled how Kayla stood up to her ISIS captors, refusing to convert to Islam despite the daily horror she endured

Ottosen said the terrorist, whose real name was Mohammed Emwazi, told the captives: 'She is much stronger than you guys. She's much smarter. She converted to Islam.'

Interrupting her captors, Ottosen recalls Kayla saying: 'No I didn't.'

He added: 'I would not have had the guts to say that. I don't think so.

'It was very clear that all of us were impressed by the strength that she showed in front of us. That was very clear.'

That was in May 2014 while Mueller was being held in an oil refinery, one of the few times during her captivity that she had contact with other prisoners.

For most of her ordeal, Mueller was kept in isolation, beaten, verbally abused, physically tortured or raped on an almost daily basis.
A former FBI expert and negotiation specialist claims the U.S. government could have negotiated with ISIS to rescue American aid worker Kayla Mueller (pictured) before she was killed

A Yazidi girl held with Mueller recalled how she offered her the chance to escape, but Mueller refused because she feared putting the group in danger

Later that same year, after being transferred to oil and gas emir Abu Sayyaf's compound, a Yazidi sex slave who calls herself Julia, recalled how she concocted an escape plan and begged Mueller to come with her.

The girl, who was just 13 at the time, said: 'I told Kayla, "We want to escape," and I asked her to come with us.

'She told me, "No, because I am American. If I escape with you, they will do everything to find us again."

'It is better for you to escape alone. I will stay here.'

The hostages have also cast doubt on statements given by Doctors Without Borders (also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) about messages passed to Mueller's family.

Despite the fact that Mueller did not work for MSF, the organization was heavily involved in negotiation efforts for her release because she had been staying inside one of their compounds immediately before being captured

Her boyfriend, Omar Alkhani, had also been working for MSF as a contractor. He was released after two months having been beaten.

Mueller also was held with three women who worked for the aid organization before they were released in 2014.

Two of those women, named for the first time by ABC as Frida Saide and Patricia Chavez, recalled how Mueller gave them two notes to take back home as they left.

One note Mueller had been forced to write by her ISIS captors containing their demands for her release - a prisoner exchange for al-Qaeda operative Aafia Siddiqui from a U.S. federal prison or 5 million euros.

The second note, which Mueller penned in secret, was similarly worded but had important contact information written on the back including for friend and college spiritual adviser, Rev. Kathleen Day of Flagstaff's Northern Arizona University.

Saide and Chavez were also told to memorize an email address which would be used to negotiate for Mueller's release.

While the women were released in March 2014, it was not until April that MSF staff passed along the smuggled note to Mueller's parents, and May before they were given the ISIS-ordered letter and email address.

In a statement yesterday, MSF officials said they withheld the information out of fear it would put other captives at risk, and said Mueller herself had requested that the ISIS-ordered letter not be handed over.

But Saide and Chavez, who had no idea any information was being kept from the family, say Mueller never discussed withholding any of the letters with them.

The women, along with a third former captive whose name has not yet been released, also blasted MSF for not mentioning the fact that Mueller and Alkhani were abducted from one of the charity's vehicles just months before they arrived in Syria.

Saide recalls that, during a safety briefing they received after arriving in the country in 2013, they were told that the kidnap risk to MSF staff was 'low' and 'not something we should worry about.'

Eventually negotiations did begin for Mueller's release, but by that time America had launched a bombing campaign against the jihadis, causing talks to flounder.

Later that year Mueller was transferred to Sayyaf's compound where she was kept with the Yazidis as a sex slave, and repeatedly raped by the group's spiritual leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who took her for a wife.

Mueller died in early 2015 as the result of an airstrike on Sayyaf's compound.

While exact information about her death is unclear, ISIS claimed the raid was carried out by the Jordanian air force.

Yesterday an ISIS hostage video of Mueller was revealed – showing the aid worker pleading for help from captivity.

Mueller is only seen from the chest up, wearing a green shirt and with her hair covered with a black hijab.

Clearly in distress, she says: ‘My name is Kayla Mueller. I need your help.

‘I’ve been here too long and I’ve been very sick and it’s it’s very terrifying here.’

The 10-second clip ends before she reveals where ‘here’ is – but Mueller was filmed for the proof-of-life video by ISIS militants in Syria which was handed to her parents by the FBI on August 20, 2013, ABC News reports.

‘You just go into almost a catatonic state, I think. You can’t even stand up,’ her father Carl Mueller told Brian Ross about his reaction to seeing his daughter in the video three years ago.

In an interview to air on 20/20 on Friday, her mother Marsha also spoke of her heartbreak at seeing her daughter as a helpless hostage.

‘I saw how thin she looked but I saw that her eyes were very clear and steady,’ she said. ‘It broke my heart but I also saw her strength.’

The 22-megabyte video was sent to a friend of the aid worker, who passed it on to authorities, who then handed it over to her parents.

Chris Voss, a retired hostage negotiator for the FBI, looked at the clip provided by ABC.

He said ISIS would have rehearsed and filmed this brief clip a number of times to get it right and put makeup on Mueller to make her appear in good health.

‘They want to put enough out there to start a negotiation. And that's what this is intended to do,’ he told ABC.

But although the video was received by the Muellers within weeks of their daughter’s capture, they didn’t begin negotiations for 10 months.

They pinned their hopes on the non-governmental aid groups their daughter had worked for, including the Danish Refugee Council, Support to Life and the NGO Forum.
They said the groups told them the government has stepped in to help and would bring their daughter home safe.

Carl Mueller told ABC that his family trusted them all ‘like sheep.’

The Muellers have said that Support to Life was helpful, but a small organization that couldn’t handle a hostage case.

They blasted Doctors Without Borders for refusing to help negotiate – even though she was taken from a vehicle belonging to the charity.

Marsha and Carl Mueller said the group withheld vital information about their daughter they had gotten from freed hostages who worked for the organization.

The group has said it 'made a decision to share the email address at a later time out of concern for the safety of still-detained prisoners.'

'We regret the fact that Marsha Mueller had to reach out to us first before we did so; we should have reached out to the family first, and we have apologized to the Muellers for that,' the group has said.


Carl and Marsha Mueller blasted Doctors Without Borders for refusing to help negotiate for their daughter's freedom after she was kidnapped leaving one of their hospitals in Aleppo.

The couple, of Prescott, Arizona, also accused the humanitarian group of withholding an email address which was needed to communicate with her ISIS captors in Syria.

‘Somewhere in a boardroom, they decided to leave our daughter there to be tortured and raped and ultimately murdered,’ Mueller’s father said in an interview with ABC News to air on Friday.

The group admitted that it decided to share the email address at a later time ‘out of concern for the safety of still-detained prisoners.'

But it also said it had no obligation to advocate for someone who did not work for the organization.  

The Muellers recorded a phone conversation, provided to ABC, with a senior official with MSF ten months after their daughter was kidnapped – asking the group for help with negotiations.

'No,' the official replied.

'The crisis management team that we have installed for our five people and that managed the case for our people will be closed down in the next week… because our case is closed.'

Mueller's father called Doctors Without Borders a 'fabulous organization and they do wonderful work'.

'But somewhere in a boardroom, they decided to leave our daughter there to be tortured and raped and ultimately murdered.'

MSF called Mueller’s death a ‘terrible and tragic loss,’ but noted that their security policy forbids people from certain countries, including the US, from working at or even visiting the hospital.

They also said that they are not in a position to help with cases that don’t involve their own staff.

It added that staff at the hospital had no ideal that an American was going to turn up.

'She was not expected and no one at the hospital had any indication she was coming,' it said.

'If they had, they would have stated in no uncertain terms that she should not come, or cancelled the visit altogether,' the statement said.

'This was because Aleppo was well known to be a very dangerous place, a city at war (as it remains to this day), where the risk level for westerners, and Americans in particular, was very high.'

However, in a lengthy statement, the organization explained the decisions that were made following Mueller's abduction in August 2013.

'As an organization that works in conflict zones and has had several of our colleagues and friends killed while trying to provide emergency assistance, we know this all too well.

'In this instance, the Muellers asked MSF to actively intervene to help achieve Kayla’s release and we did not do so.

‘There are several reasons for this: The risks go beyond any one location.

'If MSF were generally considered by would-be abductors to be a negotiator of release for non-MSF staff, there is no doubt that this would increase the risk levels in many locations, put our field staff, medical projects, and patients in danger, and possibly force us to close projects where needs are often acute.
‘It would limit MSF’s ability to provide life-saving care to people caught in dangerous conflicts.

'Furthermore, MSF is an emergency medical organization. We are not hostage negotiators.'

It added: 'There is risk inherent in humanitarian work in conflict, but we rely on people who are willing to take those risks to help us reach people in need around the world.

'It’s awful to know that people like Kayla Mueller, who carried a very similar spirit into the world, died during efforts to reach some of those same people.'

Jason Cone, executive director of MSF-USA, added: 'From everything that I have learned from speaking with Kayla’s parents, Carl and Marsha, and from her passionate writing and advocacy about people in crisis, whether in Darfur, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Tibet, or India, she exhibited the same incredible compassion and connection to neglected people that I see in my colleagues every day.

'All of us at MSF want to share our condolences and sympathies for the horrific experience that the Mueller family has lived through over the past three years. No one should have to endure such an experience.'

The group has had at least seven staff members taken hostage and released by ISIS – after they helped negotiate ransom payments for some.

But MSF said they had no moral obligation to help Mueller.

'We can't be in the position of negotiating for people who don't work for us,' Cone told ABC. 'I don't think there was a moral responsibility.'
Obama 'broke his promise to donate to Mueller foundation'

President Obama broke his promise to donate to the foundation set up in Kayla Mueller's name, according to her parents.

Obama made the promise to Carl and Marsha Mueller shortly after their daughter was killed while in ISIS captivity last year, they told ABC News.

'I'm still waiting for that donation, Mr President,' Carl Mueller said in the interview, which will be aired Friday on 20/20.

Marsha recalled that the president asked 'what he could do for you' during a private meeting when he went to Phoenix, Arizona, after their daughter's death.

Her husband added that Obama said the donation would be 'anonymous' to the Kayla's Hands foundation and assured them he would follow through.

The president has yet to make the contribution to the Mueller's foundation, but a White House official confirmed to ABC News that he still intends to do so.

In a statement to ABC, the official said: 'The president will continue to support the goals of the organization in different ways, including by making a donation, as pledged to the Mueller family.'
Timeline of Kyyla Mueller's abduction and aftermath

AUGUST 3, 2013: Doctors Without Borders said Kayla Mueller arrived at their hospital in Aleppo from southern Turkey at around 4pm with her boyfriend.

Because Mueller and her boyfriend had arrived late in the day, he didn’t have time to finish his work – and were allowed to stay inside the compound that night because there were limited safe places to stay in the Industrial City neighborhood.

AUGUST 4: Mueller’s boyfriend Omar Alkhani asked staff for help getting back to the city’s bus depot, who arranged for a hired car and driver to take them to the bus depot.
Sometime in August, Alkhani and an MSF worker were released.

JANUARY 2014: Three women and two men who worked for MSF were abducted by ISIS.

APRIL: The three women were released and later revealed they had been held in the same place as Mueller, who had asked them to smuggle a letter to her parents.

They were also told by their captors to memorize an email address to later use to negotiate Mueller’s release.

MSF passed along the letter and information, but decided to withhold the email address out of concern for the safety of the still-detained prisoners.

MAY 14: Two male prisoners were released.

MAY 23: Email address was handed over to the Muellers so hostage negotiations could begin. MSF apologized that Marsha Mueller had to reach out to them first.

MAY 29: Mueller’s parents received an audio clip and their daughter told them that her kidnappers wanted Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s release in exchange for her and if not, then five million euros.

Then, they heard what would be their daughter’s last spoken word to them: ‘Goodbye.’

SEPTEMBER 2014: Mueller was transferred along with two Kurdish women of Yazidi descent from an Islamic State prison to the custody of Abu Sayyaf, a former Islamic State minister for oil and gas.

OCTOBER 2014: A Yazidi teenager who was held with Mueller who escaped in October said ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdad took Mueller as a 'wife', repeatedly raping her when he visited.

FEBRUARY 6, 2015: Islamic State announce that Mueller was killed when Jordanian fighter jets bombed a building where she was being held, but Jordan expressed doubts about their account of her death.

It remains unclear exactly how she died, but it is believed to be after an airstrike.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3759984/I-m-not-Muslim-conv...

The Isil economy

Despite coalition airstrikes and historically low global oil prices, Isil maintained a high level of revenue in 2015 due to its diversified economy. Researchers at the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism estimate that the group’s revenue came to about £1.9 billion last year and can be broken down as follows:

Extortion: In 2015 extortion became Isil’s greatest source of income, accounting for £616 million, or about a third of total revenue.

Kidnapping and ransom accounted for £77 million or four per cent of Isil’s 2015 income.

Antiquities: Isil controlled about 7,000 archaeological sites in Iraq and Syria in 2015. Antiquities trafficking was the source of £23 million of the group’s income for the year.

Oil: Isil’s total oil production in 2015 was estimated at 40,000 barrels per day, accounting for £460 million in revenue, or about a quarter of total income.

Natural gas: The group controlled at least 12 natural-gas fields, bringing in £270 million, or 14 per cent of its annual income.

Phosphate: Output from Isil’s phosphate mines in Iraq and Syria accounted for £193 million, or 10 per cent, of its total income in 2015.

Agriculture: Fertile land in Syria and Iraq meant that Isil’s trade in cereal crops and cotton accounted for £118 million, or six per cent, of its 2015 revenue.

Cement: Isil controls several important cement plants. In 2015 cement brought in £77 million, or four per cent of its revenue.

Donations: Isil receives donations from wealthy businessmen and religious institutions. These accounted for some £38 million, or two per cent, of its 2015 income.

Source: Center for the Analysis of Terrorism


The most dangerous job in the world: The smugglers who rescue the women kidnapped by Isil
by Yvo Fitzherbert, 27 August 2016

The veiled woman thrust a Koran into her hands. ‘Follow me,’ she told Halo Kald, a 30-year-old Yazidi captive in Raqqa. It was Friday evening in the so-called capital of the Islamic State, and the men were praying. Was this  a trap? The woman, seeing Halo’s hesitation, produced a phone from deep inside the folds of her chador.

Halo listened to a recording of a man’s voice in Kurmanji, the Kurdish  dialect spoken by Yazidis. She followed. ‘The moment I heard the voice of Abdullah, who I’d spoken to secretly two weeks before, I knew this was our chance,’ Halo tells me. We are drinking sweet black tea in the shipping container she calls home.

This is Qadia, one of more than 20 camps dotted around Duhok governorate, where Yazidis, whose religion has roots in Sufism and Zoroastrianism, displaced by Isil from their ancestral lands in Sinjar, are trying to start again. The region plays host to 500,000 displaced people – including most of the Yazidi population of Iraq.

Duhok city itself, an ancient Assyrian settlement in Iraqi Kurdistan, an hour’s drive north of Mosul, was small before the rise of Isil.  In August 2014, Isil raided Halo’s village, Kocho, which lies just south of Sinjar in north-western Iraq. They separated the men from the women and children.

More than 400 men were systematically shot and buried in a mass grave. Halo’s son, Hani, was placed with the men, but then sent back on account of his age. He was nine years old.  The women and children were sent to the nearby Isil stronghold of Tal Afar, halfway between Mosul and Sinjar, and crammed with other prisoners into an old school.

Escape was possible, she says, but perilous. Halo recounts how a mother and her two children were caught trying to escape: Isil fighters snatched the  children, and Halo never saw the mother again.

Halo and her children were taken by Isil, and rescued by Abdullah and his associates  Credit: Gus Palmer

‘Throughout my captivity, my three children were the only thing that kept me alive,’ she says, stroking the two daughters by her side, Hanaa and Helena, and glancing at Hani, who is listening from the corner. ‘I was too afraid of  losing them to dream of fleeing Daesh.’

I don’t ask Halo for more detail than she gives me about her treatment at the hands of her captors. The subject of sex slavery is both understood and taboo.

Shortly after Halo was taken captive, Baba Sheikh Khurto Hajji Ismail, the religious leader of the Yazidis, encouraged his people to accept Yazidi women returning from Isil territory because they had been ‘subjected to a matter outside their control’. But it continues to be an extremely difficult area.

Because of the taboo, many women cannot speak freely about whether they were victims of rape.  Later, Halo was sent south to Anbar province, also in Isil hands, passing through a dozen Arab families before fetching up in Raqqa, Syria, where she was sold at the notorious slave market.

With other Yazidi women, she was  kept in a hall frequented by men coming to inspect them. The best-looking girls were sold for more, but for the right price all women were sold freely to Isil emirs or fighters, making  a handy profit for the group.

Until this point, Halo had had no telephone, no access to the outside world. Cihad, her husband, didn’t hear from her for nearly a year.  He had been fighting elsewhere with the Peshmerga, the Iraqi Kurdish forces, when Isil raided their village.

"‘Daesh’s Achilles’ heel is Islam. Korans work like passports, averting suspicion"

Halo spent nine months in Raqqa with an Arab family with links to Isil. Here she was responsible for going to the market and buying household supplies – freedoms she hadn’t tasted for many months. A member of the household, taking pity, gave her access to a  telephone.

‘I called Cihad, who told me he knew a smuggler and would find a way to rescue me,’ she remembers. ‘Freedom seemed unthink-able, something unreachable back then. Life under Daesh had drained me of all hope.  I hardly believed my husband.’

During her time in captivity, Halo often went for days without being given a meal, and was tormented frequently by her captors. Being beaten and treated like a slave had taken its toll, but she had her children, a glimmer of hope. Soon after speaking to Cihad, Halo was put in touch with Abdullah, one of five leading Yazidi smugglers based in Duhok.

Each smuggler has their own network of fixers. They speak of co-ordination and cooperation, but their rivalry is clear. Abdullah’s zone is Raqqa. Here he has developed a sophisticated network of trusted contacts, roughly 30-strong.

‘We used Korans as a decoy, pretending to visit the graveyards  to mourn,’ he explains from a cafe in central Duhok. ‘Daesh’s Achilles’ heel is Islam. Korans work like passports, averting suspicion.’ After getting through the checkpoints, Halo was put in a safe house on the outskirts of Raqqa.


What Yazidi Refugees Fleeing ISIS Want Americans to Know
By Ken Harbaugh, Observer • 08/31/16

A displaced Iraqi woman from the Yazidi community, who fled violence from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists, arrives in Greece. (Photo: BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

The first thing one notices upon entering the Yazidi refugee camp is the children. They seem to be everywhere—chasing each other between the UN tents, playing games in the dirt, climbing trees clinging to life in the unwatered soil.

As I arrived at the camp in the north of Greece, a portable toilet was being delivered. I helped move it into place, then began speaking with residents. Though my job was to learn about their current medical needs, every conversation veered off course. The refugees were desperate that the outside world understand what ISIS had done to them. Men were killed outright, as were women deemed unworthy of saving. To be “saved,” as a Yazidi female, was perhaps the worst fate of all. Attractive women and girls of were rounded up and sold as sex slaves.

In all, ISIS murdered some five thousand Yazidi men and enslaved thousands more women.

An old man spoke of how ISIS drove into his village one afternoon. They gathered male elders over the age of 70, nineteen of them in all. The black-clad fighters lined the men against a wall and shot them one by one. Sixteen were executed. Then, while the fighters paused for a break, the remaining three old men somehow slipped away. At night, they returned to recover the bodies of their friends.  But the dogs had already gotten to them. This was the only time the old man cried—when he told me he had not been able to bury his friends. In all, ISIS murdered some five thousand Yazidi men and enslaved thousands more women. Those who could escape found refuge where they could. Some 500,000 Yazidis were driven from lands inhabited by their people for thousands of years.  

My interviews were interrupted by an elder requesting that I perform a medical check on an old woman. I suspect he asked as much out of pride as concern—the woman, he beamed, was 116 years old. I had no way of verifying that, but if people can live to be 116, I now know what they might look like. The woman sat cross-legged on a bed, a shawl around her head. She could not have weighed more than seventy pounds. She was blind, both eyes clouded by cataracts. But she could still hear, and smiled as we approached. As I examined her, she told her story, and it became clear that she was more to her people than an old woman—she was the repository for a culture on the verge of extinction. Since fleeing their ancestral home, the Yazidis had carried her, mostly in their arms, every step of the way.

Nadia Murad testifies during Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, DC.

A commotion drew me outside. Several vehicles pulled up in front of the camp, and a crowd gathered around a female figure stepping from the lead car. Women touched her clothing with an almost religious reverence. Men approached, prayer beads in their hands and tears in their eyes. The object of their attention was Nadia Murad. Over the past several months, she has become the outward face of the Yazidis, a reminder to the world of their suffering. Two years ago, at the age of 21, her village was attacked by ISIS.  Six of her brothers were murdered. She and other women were taken as sex slaves. Her mother, deemed undesirable, was killed. Nadia was forced into a “marriage” in which her new husband repeatedly beat and raped her. After one failed escape attempt, Nadia was sexually assaulted by six ISIS guards until she lost consciousness. Fellow female prisoners, subjected to the same horrors, killed themselves to end their own suffering.  

Nadia miraculously escaped, and recently testified before the UN Security Council about what happened to her. Everyone in the camp knew her story. And many wanted Nadia to know theirs. Resident after resident came forward. Mothers had witnessed their children being murdered. Children had seen their parents shot. Through it all, Nadia listened, embraced, and consoled. Then, she entered the camp to meet with the old woman. I was invited as well. I hesitated. It seemed intrusive. I was an outsider. But I suspect that was the point. My hosts wanted an American to serve as witness.

In every other camp I have visited, refugees talk of one day going home. That can never happen for the Yazidis.

Nadia approached the old woman, reached out her hands, and began to speak. At the sound of Nadia’s voice, the woman beckoned her closer. As they embraced, both came undone. Nadia wailed. Her comforter began to weep. Nadia had been the picture of strength and composure, but in this room, she could no longer contain her grief. I wept too, though I felt I had no right.  

For a long time, we stood around the bed. I did not need a translator to tell me what passed between these two women. One, a centenarian vessel for an entire civilization’s wisdom and suffering. The other, an envoy to the world, sent to ignite its conscience. Both bearing the weight of what their people had endured. In every other camp I have visited, refugees talk of one day going home. That can never happen for the Yazidis. The brutality that drove them here was utterly complete. Their homes were burned, their worship houses defiled, their faith vilified. When ISIS targeted their ancestral lands in northern Iraq, the Sinjar mountains became the Yazidi’s last stand. The world watched as ISIS closed in, intent on finishing the massacre begun in the villages. At the last moment, a U.S.-led air campaign prevented their extinction, and the siege was broken by Kurdish fighters on the ground. Mount Sinjar was evacuated, the fleeing remnants of this civilization dispersed, and four hundred Yazidis wound up here, at a dusty camp in the north of Greece.

Now, their culture hangs in the balance. Its survival depends on an ancient woman who can neither see nor walk, but can remember all too well. It depends on a saint like Nadia Murad, who wanted nothing more than to become a school teacher in the shadow of Mount Sinjar and now carries the weight of her people’s grief. And ultimately, it depends on us, on whether the world awakens to the suffering of the Yazidis, or lets it count for nothing.


ISIS Genocide Continues: Yazidi Girl Kidnapped, Sold, Raped, Impregnated, Baby Boy Taken From Her
By Michael W. Chapman | August 30, 2016 |

Thousands of Christians and Yazidis have been persecuted and killed by the Islamic State, which is implementing genocide against these minorities and, as survivor Nihad Alawsi recently recounted, in her case she was kidnapped, raped, sold as a sex slave, raped again, impregnated, and after she gave birth to a baby boy who she discovered she loved – “he was a part of me” -- the child was taken away from her.

“They brought the baby to me and he looked up at me,” said Alawsi, 16, in a video released by NRT News and promoted by the AMAR International Charitable Foundation. “I felt he was a part of me and I loved him.”

Nihad Alawsi had an opportunity to escape with the help of a neighbor in the Islamic State-held village in Iraq. She was told, however, “you have to leave your baby behind.”

“I was devastated because regardless of what happened, he’d become a part of me,” said Alawsi.

In the video, Nihad Alawsi talks about her family and what happened after the Islamic State (or Daesh) invaded her village in Iraq in August 2014.

“My village was very beautiful,” she says. “In springtime it was full of flowers and lovely fields. The thing I used to love the most was hanging out with all of my family. I have 12 brothers and six sisters. I love all of them, but I am especially fond of my eldest sister.”

Once the Daesh took over, “I was terrified,” she says.  “I didn’t know what was going to happen to my brothers and cousins. We thought they would not harm the girls. From what we heard, they slaughter the men.”

“I was given to one fighter,” says Alawsi. “His name was Salam Hamdou Obaid. He attacked and raped me. I eventually managed to escape and said to myself I’ll either die or reach my family.”

“From there I was captured,” she says.  “The leader took me to the market where Yazidi girls are sold. I was bought for $800 dollars. He attacked and raped me, then left me for three days. I hated him beyond explanation.”

“After a month, this criminal had got me pregnant,” says Alawsi.  “I felt as if there was a criminal from Daesh inside my womb. I was taken to a hospital and stayed there for four days due to the pills and other steps I’d take to try to abort it.”

According to the video, Nihad Alawsi made several attempts to try to abort the child conceived in rape by a Daesh terrorist. Yet eventually she gave birth.

“They brought the baby to me and he looked up at me,” she says.  “I felt he was a part of me and I loved him. I decided I was going to escape to my family.”

Alawsi continues, “There was a neighbor. I said, ‘I need to escape, can you help me get to my family?’  She said, ‘It’s okay, you can go. But you have to leave your baby behind.’”

“I was devastated because regardless of what happened, he’d become a part of me,” says the teenage girl.

After a total of 15 months in captivity, Nihad Alawsi escaped.

“I felt like I was in another world,” she says about her post-captivity life. “I couldn’t believe that the day had come when I would see my family again. My mother and father and my siblings.”

“Inshallah, this year, I want to go back to school and finish my studies,” she says in the video. “My thoughts and fears remain with my missing siblings and my three cousins. I still don’t know their fate. I feel the same about all the Yazidi people under the control of Daesh. We are all one.”

In March 2016, the United States officially declared that the actions of the Islamic State against Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities in the Middle East constituted genocide. The British government made the same official declaration in April 2016.

The AMAR International Charitable Foundation is a non-profit group with offices in Washington, D.C. and in London. According to its webpage, AMAR “helps people in areas of conflict, civil disorder and disruption, rebuild lives within communities under duress by creating and sustaining professional services in medicine, public health, education and basic need provision.”  

AMAR also seeks to provide mental health services to the women and girls who escape from ISIS. Their current campaign in this field, Escaping Darkness, can be researched here.


The Yazidi Women Who Escaped ISIS
Photographs and  interviews
SEIVAN M. SALIM, The Daily Beast, 2015

They are the survivors, these young women. Their fathers and brothers have been killed, and in many cases the older women in their families were taken away. The zealots of the so-called Islamic State do not recognize their Yazidi religion, and took the girls to be slaves. … Think on that a moment: “slaves.” It’s not a figurative term, it is literal bondage: humans as chattel to be bought and sold, forced to work, and raped at will. Most of them were taken from in and around the town of Sinjar, Iraq, which fell to ISIS in August 2014. Often beaten, often starved, and utterly defenseless, many refused to bathe, hoping  that would keep men away from them. Others pretended to be mothers. But many were raped no matter what ruses they employed, or how much they pleaded. Eventually they were taken to Raqqa, the de facto capital in Syria of the putative caliphate, to a makeshift slave market. And, usually when they managed to get a hold of a cell phone, these few were able, one by one, to arrange to escape. With them they brought these accounts of brutality and duplicity that paint a never-before-published account of slavery under ISIS.


DATE OF CAPTURE: 08/04/2014

My brother and my cousins were Peshmerga, members of the Iraqi Kurdish military. They informed us that they couldn't fight anymore and that we should run away fast, that we should try and save ourselves from ISIS. We were terrified and we ran to the mountains. The next night, a Muslim friend called us: he convinced us to go back to the village, saying that nobody would hurt us, and that he would protect us, as he knew some of the fighters. He lied to us.

We were arrested as soon as we entered the village. They put me and 14 other girls on a truck, and they took us to Mosul. We were all young and pretty. We did not stay in Mosul long, as they preferred moving us to a small village where we stayed for 15 days. The conditions there were terrible: we stayed in a very dirty place, stinky and filthy, and we all got sick.

Then we were taken into Syria, to Raqqa. They told us that we would be sold, some as slaves, some as brides for the fighters. It was hot, unbearably hot and it was 150 of us in a house without windows, without air.

One afternoon about 20 men entered the house and started beating us. They shouted that we were their slaves, and we should only obey them, and do whatever we are told to do. They told us that they would punish us, but never kill us, as they preferred to torture us.

That night they brought us to Sham, a small city not far from Raqqa. There was a car for each of us waiting there. We were sold, some alone, some together with others. I was sold, along with two other girls, to a man from Kazakhstan and we became his personal slaves. We mainly had to clean the house, but he was terrible to us and in the first three days only fed us a biscuit or two. We also did not have permission to wash, which I thought was ok, as I was scared that otherwise he would want to sleep with me. I preferred to stay dirty.

I did not obey him, and did not do what he wanted. I told him I did not like him, and that I would not do anything there. I did not care.

He sold me again, to get rid of me. And I was lucky then. My new “owner” was more gentle with me. He was also from Kazakhstan. He had three wives and seven children. He swore not to bother me if I followed Islam. He told me he was not interested in marrying me, and if I behaved he would not sell me again. He allowed me to spend time with other Yazidi women. He even gave me a phone one day, after seven months that I was there. With that phone, I later called my brother and started planning my escape. A smuggler was paid for helping with my release.


DATE OF CAPTURE 08/15/2014

When ISIS arrived many people ran away to the mountain but ISIS captured them. They brought us to the local school. They took all money, gold and guns. Then they brought all men outside and they shot them—they killed them. …  They took us to Syria by bus, I was together with around 400 other girls. The man who chose me was very angry, he beat me more and threatened to kill me with his gun. We were taken to a farm, where for eight days we hardly ate anything. They registered our name. They took four or five girls each time and sold them and then came back again to us to take more. They brought me alone by car to be sold. I cried and asked them to let my sister be with me but they didn't care. One person bought me and brought me to a prison in Raqqa. One day they called me to be sold again. There were five men, one of which was from France. He asked me if I knew how to cook and if I spoke Arabic. I told him I didn’t: he replied that I would learn and took me with him. But he only took me to sell me again, this time to an old man from Saudi Arabia. He was along with another man from Jordan. I stayed at his house. They brought me a black abaya. They told me to shower but I didn’t. They brought me some food, but I did not eat. At night I tried to escape from the main door but it did not open. The side door did though. I wore the black abay and run away. I found some taxis and got into one asking the driver to take me to see my uncle at the border with Turkey. An ISIS car stopped the taxi and questioned the man and myself. They asked me what I was doing alone, without children outside the house. Then the taxi driver told the men that my uncle had an accident and he was helping me to get to him. They let us go, and the man drove me to Tel Abyad at the border with Turkey, where I was rescued.


DATE OF CAPTURE: 08/15/2014

They brought us to Raqqa, Syria. One night nine girls tried to flee. They tied their clothes together and made a rope with them and fled from the window but then ISIS fighters found them and brought them back. They hit all of us because we did not say anything to them about their escape. I was asleep when they came in and punished all of us, whipping us with a big scourge. There were about 70 of us. They put us all in a big room, locked the door and did not give us any water until the next day. Then one day they brought us to another building. On the front it was written something like “selling place”, and there I was sold to a 40-year-old man from Saudi Arabia. He asked me to marry him, and when I refused he said that he would punish me with the objects I saw on the table: a knife, a gun, a rope. But If I married him I would be treated with more respect, as far as I would sleep with him. I refused over and over again. I was sold again. They told me that I better commit suicide. They beat me. They beat my niece, who is only 3 years old. I was then sold again, to a man, a single man, who wanted to marry me and who wanted to sleep with me: I refused with all my energies, and again I was beaten, and so was my little niece. He tried to rape me, and when he couldn’t he sold me again. In the new house I did all the work: cleaning, cooking, washing. The man who bought me said that he had to sleep with me to make me a real Muslim: I told him that if he slept with me, I would become his wife, and then I would not be a slave anymore, he should treat me like his wife. His wife told him that if he slept with me she would run away, back to her father’s house. She then got mad at my niece for she could not speak Arabic: she put pepper in her mouth, and locked her in a room without water, she beat her so much, you can still see the wounds today. They did not let me change her diapers for a week. We were only allowed to eat small portions of food: after all we were slaves and we should not expect to have more food. My niece cried her eyes out for she was starving to death. I was there for five months and they forced me to learn Arabic.

One day I got hold of a phone, and called my uncle, for neither my brother nor my father picked up the phone. My uncle organized my escape, which happened at night when everybody was asleep.


DATE OF CAPTURE: 08/03/2014

We heard heavy shooting coming from outside at around three in the morning and we immediately ran away, towards the mountains of Sinjar. It was almost noon when we were stopped by ISIS: we had almost reached the mountains, we were almost safe.

They took all of us, 14 members of the family. The worst thing I saw was the killings in Sinjar. I saw so many corpses on the road: it was terrible. I remember one of the saddest moments there, during those terrible months, was this little girl, twelve years old. They raped her with no mercy.

They separated women from men, and brought me with 17 other girls to Tal Afar. They kept moving us around. In a house one day I found a phone, which was probably left by one of the fighters. I took it and called my father, who worked in Erbil. My father paid a smuggler $4,000 to get me out of Tal Afar and into safety to the Peshmerga.


DATE OF CAPTURE: 08/03/2014

We were farmers, we had a big property that we all looked after. In the village half of us were Muslim, the other half Yazidi. I was in love with a boy from the village, and we wanted to get married. I don’t know what happened to him after ISIS arrived.

The sounds of firearms and airplanes flying started at 3:00 am. In the morning we realized that every Yazidi family was gone. Only Muslim families were left. We ran to our neighbor and borrowed his truck to leave the village. We set off toward the mountains, but we were stopped by ISIS on the way. The fighters were from other countries, not only from Iraq. They had big new cars. They were from Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. They told us to get off the truck.

The road was full of corpses: they killed many people. They separated the girls from the others, and brought us to Baadj with their jeeps. My mum tried to come with us, but they hit her with the back of the gun, she fell and could not come. We did not eat for three days, we only cried. They told us not to be afraid, that they would not hurt us. They had a problem with the government they said, not with the people. Then they brought us to Badush prison: it was dark, and packed with people. They took the young girls, and brought us to Mosul.

A sheik came to us. He had a stick in one hand, a book in the other. He came to convert us to Islam: we said the words he asked us to say and according to the man we were then Muslim, and had to go with them. One morning at 5:00 they picked us up, forced us to wear a black abaya, chained our hands, blindfolded us and forced us on a bus. They drove for 12 hours, and then we were in Syria. We stayed in a prison for two days. On the third day they brought us into a mosque and put us under the sun like animals: it was like when there are sheep in a bazaar and people go to select them. They did the same with us.

The sheik called the men to come and see us, and choose what they liked between the Yazidi and the Christian girls. The men did not want the Christians though, they all wanted us, the Yazidi girls. One man chose me, and put me in a car. I was in his house for three months. At first he wanted to “purify” me from being Yazidi, and forced me to give up my rings, my clothes and all those things that recalled my religion, my identity. I was taken to live with other Yazidi girls who were forced to marry men from Saudi Arabia to learn how to behave. They told me that I will be forced to marry them, even if I did not want to. Then my owner came back to me and I started working in his house. The TV was always on religious channels, reciting the Quran all the time. I did not eat their food, only bread and water. One time, when I refused to wash, he hit me with his gun and told me that he would beat me to death if I did not wash myself. But I did not want to wash, because I knew that if I washed he would sleep with me. I did not wash for three months.

I tried to escape once, but the soldiers found me in the streets, and brought me back. The man beat me hard, and lashed me with an electrical cable. He told me that if I did not want to stay there and marry him he would sell me to somebody worse. He gave me three days to think about it. The next day, when he was not there, his wife came to me, and told me that she could help me escape to a Kurdish family living in the neighborhood. She took me there when her husband was out and I asked the Kurdish family to help me, I begged them. I stayed with them for five months. Then one day we could finally arrange with my father to meet at the border with Turkey. The Kurdish man gave me his daughter’s ID and drove me to the border, where I was finally rescued.


DATE OF CAPTURE 08/15/2014

ISIS brought us to a school. They separated men from women, and we were left inside. We heard the shooting. We thought they were shooting at animals and didn’t think they were killing our men.

They took us to Solakh village where they separated the children from the old, and on one side the young and the beautiful: we were taken to Mosul, and I don’t know what happened to the older ones. I don’t know what happened to my mother.

Sheiks and emirs came and looked at us. They were buying us. A man bought me and took me to Tal Afar: when we arrived I was forced into marriage. That night he tied my hands and legs and he blindfolded me. Then he raped me. He hit me with a whip. He washed me and forced me to marry him. He was around 28 or30 years old and had four children. He wanted me to give him a baby.

The man moved around a lot, and everywhere he went he would deal with explosives. I saw them setting mines under the ground in several different cities. When they heard an airplane they would send me out: they thought that if they saw me they would not bomb them. I hoped they did.

I never stayed long in one place: Mosul, Bashika, Baaj, Kojo, Sinjar. And he always brought me with him. I tried to run away twice, but he caught me and hit me for three days in a row. Sometimes I would go a whole week with no food, even 10 days. I was always locked inside a room, as if I was in prison.

I was in Mosul when I decided that it was enough. I was scared, but I wore a black abaya and went in the streets. I got on a taxi, told the taxi driver I was escaping from slavery and begged him to help me. I was lucky, for he did help me. He called my brother and asked to arrange a smuggler. My brother knew a driver in Mosul whom he trusted, and asked him to bring me to Badush where he would collect me. I was taken to the Peshmerga and I was free. But my two sisters and two brothers are still there.


DATE OF CAPTURE: 08/15/2014

They forced me to go with them when I was in Tal Afar. They said “if you don't come with us we will behead your 2 young brothers”, and I had to go with a man to Mosul. I worked in his family as a slave. They forced me to become a Muslim. Although he had a wife and a family he always slept with me. When we were besieged in Sinjar the fighters of ISIS threatened us by showing on a mobile how they beheaded some Peshmarga fighters. Five members of my family are still held by them, and I don’t know where they are, or if they are still alive.



On the third of August, they came. It was night, 4:00 am. They surrounded the city, and we could not leave. After 12 days, they came to the village one morning in 200 cars. They brought us to a school, ask for our money, our mobile phones. ISIS handcuffed the head of the village and took him away. We were all crying when they separated the women from the men. Then they took all the men away, we did not know where. Later a 13-year-old boy came back, crying and full of dust. He could not stop crying, and then he told us that the men have all been killed, but we could not believe him.

They kept moving us for weeks, and we ended up in Tal Afar again. One day one ISIS fighter came and took a picture of me with his phone. I had spread dirt over my face, so that they would not find me attractive and they would leave me in peace. But the man came back for me and took me for him. He was a Muslim man from Sinjar. He told me he would protect me and my child. He took me to the third floor of a building, where I fainted from fear. When I opened my eyes I saw other girls, some of which were my friends. Every day ISIS men would come and would bring women away. At the end it was only eight of us left, all from Kojo.

Then they brought us to Raqqa in Syria where there were more women. In Raqqa we were underground: it was so dark that I could not tell the day from the night. They wrote our names on papers around our necks, and sold us. Ten of us were sent to Aleppo, and I ended up with another woman and my nephew in a large villa. There was an American man there, who did not speak Arabic. He told us that we were his servants. He told me that we must marry him to become Muslim. When he asked me to bathe and marry him I told him that I was pregnant and could not have sex, so he brought me to a doctor and when he found out that I lied he beat me, he tied my hands with a cable and raped me. …I knew there were people in Aleppo who were just trying to survive, and I knew that I just needed to get lucky and find one. We tried and tried, until somebody helped us. We escaped, but still we don’t know anything about my uncles, my cousins and my brothers.


DATE OF CAPTURE: 08/15/2014

They separated us as women from the others and brought us to a school. Then they started moving us, to several places. At last we arrived to Raqqa, in Syria. After 12 days they sent me to a Syrian family.

I was pregnant and I had some other children with me both of mine and other families. They were very cruel with us: in spite of the fact that I was pregnant they hit me and raped me over again. If I didn't accept to have sex with the men of the family, they would force me. I was sold again, this time to a family from Saudi Arabia. They took one of the boys who were with me to be trained as a Jihadi. I did not see him again. I stayed there for one month and a half. I moved again, to another city, where my baby was born. I was raped there too, despite the fact that I just had given birth.

In Raqqa first we were in prison for 15 days. They behaved like animals, they traded us like you do with cars: it was for them like buying or selling a car. A man from Saudi Arabia bought me and I was brought in a house where two other men also lived. I begged him to let me be with my sister. He hit me with his pistol on my head until I was bleeding. They did not bring me to the hospital, instead they brought me back to the prison while I was still unconscious. My sister was sold three days later, and I was heart broken, but we were reunited, when I was sold later on to the same people, along with seven other girls.

We were held in a house during the day, then different men would come and pick us up for the night. We stayed like that for 5 months. There was not enough food, and we could not wash. I was sold again, for two months I was the slave of a man from Tajikistan. My captor was killed in a fight, so I was sold again, and then again, but this time I was given as a present. I was raped, so many times, even six times per night. They always fastened my legs and arms when they raped me. One time I tried to run away but they caught me again: they didn't feed me for six days and they hit me three times a day and each time with a cable 12 lashes.

I don't know anything about mom and dad and my brothers, I just know that my sisters were captured, too.


DATE OF CAPTURE 08/15/2014

In Raqqa first we were in prison for 15 days. They behaved like animals, they traded us like you do with cars: it was for them like buying or selling a car. A man from Saudi Arabia bought me and I was brought in a house where two other men also lived. I begged him to let me be with my sister. He hit me with his pistol on my head until I was bleeding. They did not bring me to the hospital, instead they brought me back to the prison while I was still unconscious. My sister was sold three days later, and I was heart broken, but we were reunited, when I was sold later on to the same people, along with seven other girls.

We were held in a house during the day, then different men would come and pick us up for the night. We stayed like that for 5 months. There was not enough food, and we could not wash. I was sold again, for two months I was the slave of a man from Tajikistan. My captor was killed in a fight, so I was sold again, and then again, but this time I was given as a present. I was raped, so many times, even six times per night. They always fastened my legs and arms when they raped me. One time I tried to run away but they caught me again: they didn't feed me for six days and they hit me three times a day and each time with a cable 12 lashes.

I don't know anything about mom and dad and my brothers, I just know that my sisters were captured, too.

Photographer Seivan M. Saliam covers the north of Iraq for the Associated Press and collaborates with Metrography, Iraq’s first and only independent photo agency. Saliam fled Iraq with her family as a child, and grew up in northern Iran. She returned to work in Iraq in late 2012.

This series is part of Metrography's first collective project, Map of Displacement



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